Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Curators of New England

There is an old church in Bondville, Vermont that is free for the taking. Seems the owners no longer have a use for the church that was built in the early 19th century, and are willing to part with it for free if the taker will pay for the cost of moving it. An article in the Rutland Herald states that the owners have offered the old structure to Old Sturbridge Village. I am sure that this kind of offer is made a few times each year to OSV. OSV could not be reached by the reporter of the story for their input.

Why is this noteworthy? Simple, it is because Old Sturbridge Village is looked at as the "Curator of New England". The example the village has shown over the past 60 years through its restoration of old New England buildings, historical research, and education is at a level that other institutions compare themselves to. The great thing is we have this excellent institution right here in town.

OSV has done a remarkable job turning around a drop in attendance over the past several years. January visitor numbers were the best in 10 years. More emphasis has been placed on bringing the village alive with costumed interpreters instead of being the shadow box it was becoming. They are heading in the right direction.

So, what now for the village. Well, I am not privy to their game plan, but I can imagine it is something like this:

  • Seek out the money. Apply for every grant they can for maintaining, improving the infrastructure of the existing Village.
  • Aggressively market the Village nationally, and locally as not only a living "time capsule" for visitors to experience, but as a leading educational center for schools and individuals. The key word here is aggressive. Taking a step outside the bounds that they have spent the last 60 years.
  • Increase membership. Schedule events like from "Redcoats to Rebels" throughout the year in order to attract those people that would normally overlook what the village had to offer.
  • Continue to market the Village as a fantastic place for a corporate events, functions, and weddings, and offer things that no other venue can, or would offer.
Eventually, with the money coming in on a regular basis, they can begin to add new projects to the Village. Maybe a mill beside the river, or who knows, maybe an old Vermont church resurrected high on a hill overlooking the Common.

With the right leadership, and imagination anything is possible, and I think they have both going for them right now.

For more information on the Bondville, Vermont church, click here.
Photograph: (c) 2008 The Rutland Herald.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Thinking!! The last 8 months under CEO James Donahue have seen excellent turnaround thus far, and in such a short amount of time. He has a great advancement team in place, which is being expanded, and I have no doubt that it will continue!

    Now, if only everyone would play nice and work together...what a town!


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